Pope Francis has reportedly approved Lebanon to the official list of Christian pilgrimage sites in 2019, according to the state-run Lebanese National News agency.
Lebanese Charge d’Affaires in Vatican City Khalil Karam told NNA the authorization will put Lebanon back on the list of official pilgrimage destinations for the first time in 12 years.
Lebanon was previously on the list in 2007.
Karam said President Michel Aoun discussed the potential move with senior Vatican officials during a visit in March 2017.
He said leaders from the Lebanese government have been holding meetings with Vatican officials about recommended pilgrimage sites, hotels and accommodations.
The announcement is expected to attract thousands of Christian pilgrims to Lebanon, and boost the tourism industry. Lebanon relies heavily on the tourism industry, accounting for about 18 percent of the country’s GDP.
Lebanon is one of the earliest regions to adopt Christianity, and was mentioned in the Old Testament. The country is also home to the Maronite Church and the birthplace to several Maronite saints.